Janice Lobaugh’s 30-year search for the baby boy she gave up for adoption ended Thursday amid tears of joy when she was reunited with Spencer “Will” Williams, an Army veteran from Pickens who as a teenager also had launched a search for his roots.
Lobaugh, who was 17 when she gave birth to Williams, traveled from her home in Wasilla, Alaska, to meet face-to-face with Williams and his wife, Michelle, who met while serving a tour in Iraq. Appropriately enough, there was plenty of sunshine when Lobaugh arrived at Finlay Park and began walking toward the young couple as they waited in anticipation and admired the splashing fountains.
“I feel like I’m looking into me,” she told Williams as she presented him with a baby book that showed his birth certificate and other memorabilia from his early months. She had named him Thurmond Randall Blair when he was born Feb. 4, 1983, in Bartlett Memorial Hospital in Juneau, clocking in at a robust 8-pounds, 9-ounces. She laughed as she gazed up into his eyes, noting, “You are still bald.”
Lobaugh, 48, tearfully recounted the path she walked as a teenage mother, working as a maid to support her young son. Her mother did not approve of her pregnancy — her younger sister had also become pregnant at 16 — and one day, as Lobaugh took the bus to pick up her paycheck, her mother called police to come get the baby.
In the weeks following, a social services agency asked Lobaugh to consider giving up the baby, then 5 months, for adoption, a decision she finally reached when considering the life she wanted for him. Lobaugh said she knew his foster family had eventually adopted him, but did not know their last name. For years, she searched for Spencer Parrish, thinking that was his last name.
Williams said his adoptive family, Monty and Tena Williamsand six sisters, left Alaska when he was 6 and moved from California to Colorado with his father’s employment. Lobaugh used the internet and social media to finally track down Williams and called Tena Williams, Williams’ adoptive mother, first and explained who she was before calling her son.
Ancestry.com, where Williams as a teenager posted a message in search of his birth mother and his background, organized the reunion.
Spencer Williams, who served two Army tours in Iraq as a mechanic and military escort for civilian contractors, first heard his birth mother’s voice Feb. 20. He was leaving Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta for Afghanistan on a civilian contract.
“I broke down,” he said, “and collapsed on the floor.”
Thursday afternoon, Williams planned to take his birth mother on a tour of Fort Jackson, where both he and his wife completed basic training. Then, he said, he would take it “day by day.”
“It’s just like any person you meet in life,” Michelle Williams said. “You have got to get to know them.”
He wants to meet Lobaugh’s two daughters, 19-year-old Karlesa, who helped her mother locate Williams, and Kareena, 7. Williams’ birth father is deceased.
Lobaugh said she has had a good life, but always felt something was missing because of the traumatic loss of her first-born child and her years of fruitless searches for him. Thursday she took a step toward healing.
“I couldn’t ask for a better Mother’s Day present,” Lobaugh said.